EU parliament chiefs say not enough Brexit progress

EU parliament chiefs say not enough Brexit progress

12th September 2017, Comments 0 comments

European Parliament Brexit chief Guy Verhofstadt warned Tuesday there had not been enough progress in talks so far to move on to negotiations on a future EU-Britain trade deal.

European Union leaders are set to decide at a summit in late October whether talks on divorce issues, including the bill Britain must pay, have made enough headway to start discussions on future relations.

Verhofstadt urged British Prime Minister Theresa May to address the parliament as part of the negotiating process, but another senior MEP warned she would be "out of her depth".

Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister, told a news conference in Strasbourg, France, where the parliament is meeting: "For the moment we don't see sufficient progress, clearly."

MEPs are set to vote on a motion early next month about whether there has been enough progress, Verhofstadt said, adding: "at the moment, everyone can see that isn't the case."

The European Parliament will have the final vote on any Brexit deal when Britain leaves in March 2019.

Verhofstadt said May should give a speech to all 750 members of the European Parliament in public, after she said she would only address its top officials behind closed doors.

"Very pleased that Ms May has accepted the invitation of the EP (European Parliament) but... I would encourage her to address the full House. It can only be helpful," he said on Twitter.

Manfred Weber, the head of the largest group in the EU parliament, the European People's Party, agreed that "the progress is not really that strong."

"It seems to be that Great Britain is still thinking that they can follow the full cherry picking approach, I think that will not work," said Weber, a German MEP who is a key ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Brussels insists Britain cannot "cherry pick" benefits of EU membership, such as the single market, while opting out of things it doesn't like, such as open immigration of European nationals.

It also says Britain -- which voted to leave the EU in a referendum last year -- must settle the divorce terms first before discussing a future trade deal.

With the European Parliament effectively having a veto on any Brexit deal, its members say Britain needs to do more to convince them.

Greens leader Philippe Lambaerts said that May "gives me the impression of being, to use an English expression, out of her depth."

"If I was her media consultant I would tell her not to come here because she would have to take more punches than she would be able to give."


© 2017 AFP

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